It’s been a tough last couple of weeks for us here on the homestead. Mr Sits-in-Sunbeams, aka Bird, was acting strange and lethargic, and then started vomiting copiously; after a few fraught days at the vet, more tests (and expense) than I thought I’d ever cop to, and many tearful moments of considering goodbye, our little buddy has been diagnosed with kidney disease.

As you can see from the above photo, he’s back at home now (with his new summer haircut) and actually doing better than ever really. Turns out that kidney disease, while terminal, is something that can be managed with diet to extend his life for a good while longer, if we are careful. But talk about a distraction. I think the hardest thing about the whole situation has been the emotional struggle over “is this really worth it?” Our cat now has better access to health care than a large majority of the world’s human inhabitants. This experience has exposed many questions about the value of life, the value of money, and how to reconcile the two.

bird skull & milkweed husk

I wonder though, how do parents of human children manage this anxiety? Pet or not, I have definitely lost sleep over him. Do you just get used to worrying this much, or does the yoke of responsibility for someone else’s welfare get easier to bear over time? Those of you with kids of your own, please advise. I could use some reassuring mantras here!

The thing that I have realized through this is how important having a pet has been in my personal growth.  Learning to truly care for and love another being who utterly depends on me – well of course that is obvious. More subtle has been finding myself looking at all animals differently, for knowing this one domestic animal more intimately. Maybe it is anthropomorphizing on some level to say so, but I’ve come to recognize in all living things a certain spark of animacy that formerly i reserved only for humans. I suppose it has been just the acquisition of a kind of respect for life.  No — a reverence.  Seeing how we are all the same, really – kittens, humans, the raccoons in my roof, the birds on the sill and the pigeons in the park, the seedlings I’ve planted and all the ‘weeds’ I haven’t… All of us sharing this one small world. How can one not be in awe? I feel a little like our cat is a spiritual vessel through which I can channel love for all living things in a personal way, on a small-scale, every day. A reminder of all that is precious and how fragile we all are. He is a walking, purring symbol of all that i cherish.

a pencil sketch i did of Bird when he was just a wee kitten

I had several weeks of photos that I was looking forward to sharing with you here, but in my distraction I accidentally deleted them from my camera before I had uploaded them. Quel dommage. It was bound to happen sooner or later. As crises go it’s pretty minor, and I have to laugh now at how upset it made me. But then, it’s a reminder to appreciate the beautiful things while they happen, now, in the present, isn’t it? The beauty of Now is a fragile thing as well, and it’s hubris to imagine that a photo can preserve that in any case.

I did really want to show you one picture in particular though: the robins hatched! All four little peepers, ugly as all get-out, stuck their necks out of the nest reaching for regurgitated worms, and it was so special to witness. But, losing the photo actually made me appreciate the moment more deeply and caused me to reflect carefully on just what I had seen and be grateful that I did. So I’ll be thankful for the accident in the end, and this opportunity to sit in a cafe window with the hot breeze blowing gently in and paint those little birds from memory.


So, is it hot where you are too? Summer is on us suddenly in all it’s 30 degree glory, and I was caught unawares. My radishes all bolted in the heat, but the lettuce is so bountiful we’re eating salad every day, the peas are in flower, and local strawberries and rhubarb are sweetening my breakfasts.

Wishing you sweet mornings as well,



5 Responses

  1. Lucky!! It’s not hot here in the Vic City … 😦 I’m happy at least that it didn’t rain this morning because Opey has been miserable to walk in the drizzle!!!

    I’m glad to hear you are managing little bird’s health issues. I do know I’ve struggled with Opey’s health troubles too… It’s heart breaking but honestly vets can really make you feel terrible but it sounds like you’ve got a handle on the situation and the role that bird and pets play in our lives. Beautiful 😀

  2. lovely writing. thanks for sharing.

  3. Hey Anna!

    I am so sorry to hear about Bird’s health troubles…. I still remember him crawling around on the floor with just his front paws! It’s funny, but we always thought he would not make, but he ended up being the strongest of all of them.

    I wonder, do you think it is because of the hardship he experienced in the beginning that allowed him to make it so long and so well?

    My best wishes to you all.

  4. I feel the same way about our kitty (Skoshi) having given me a new appreciation for the preciousness of life among all animals. I hadn’t had a pet before her, and she definitely softened me towards other people’s pets and other little creatures I came across. Even stupid seagulls have personalities to me now. 🙂

    I’m so sorry to hear about the emotional rollercoaster that Bird’s health has taken you on! I hope he lives a long time with this illness effectively ‘managed’ 🙂 It’s so tough when your pet is sick, though. (Skoshi had to have 2 surgeries a couple years ago — I remember the worrying well.)

  5. […] Fragile […]

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